Matthew Lim

[00:00:00] Alan: All right. So I’d just like to test the audio levels for a minute. Could you just tell me your name and what you had for breakfast this morning.

[00:00:10] Matt: My name is Matt Lim and I had a god awful continental breakfast this morning.

[00:00:16] Alan: And I just so I have this sort of on tape. Do I have your permission to record this interview and use it and edit it for this documentary.

[00:00:25] Matt: You sure do.

[00:00:26] Alan: Thanks so much for doing this. So first question just starting out is how does how did how does the idea of the model minority. Has that affected your life and how does it affect your life now.

[00:00:38] Matt: Well you know obviously it kind of sets up this false ideal of what a certain group of people should be. Right. I mean it’s in the same vein as any other stereotype you see for any disenfranchised group and it puts those of us who are put in that category in an awkward place because we’re often used as a point of attack against other disenfranchised groups. And the fact that there is this idea that you know in you know specifically Asian-Americans are seen as you know this ideal to aspire to. All the while ignoring the other vulnerable sub-communities within the Asian-American community I think is disingenuous and it’s yeah it’s not it’s not good.

[00:01:28] Alan: How did that play out in your own life when you’re growing up like what were those like you mentioned it’s like ideal that Asian-Americans are kind of pigeonholed into like what did that mean for you.

[00:01:36] Matt: Well I actually grew up in Oklahoma of all places so I was basically the only Asian guy in the state more or less. So there were these levels of expectations for me not only in terms of like academic performance or you know or public life you know how you present yourself in public but also I would say your personality characteristics what your interests are. And you know what your goals were specifically growing up. Everyone’s like oh yeah this this Matthew guy over here. You know he’s you know he’s probably like math a lot. You know I did. But you know I had other interests as well. I really like poetry international literature like Middle Eastern literature and stuff like that and those aspects of my interests and those aspects of my personality were glossed over just because of the stereotype of how an Asian should be as opposed to how an Asian is so and just.

[00:02:35] Alan: So in your own community this way. How did what what’s your what’s your own. You mentioned grew up in Oklahoma and you were one of the only probably only Asian kid around. What was your own background experience in terms of how you interacted with and perceived African-Americans.

[00:02:52] Matt: Well I’m from a Filipino background. And the thing about Filipinos is that we are over the place so we are very open. I would think from my perspective very open to other groups other cultures. So I just viewed African-Americans as just you know one of us, one of the other minorities. So I kind of had a level of kinship although I would not say I understood the struggles they went through. I could sympathize though. So I think that was the main aspect of that relationship between the two groups.

[00:03:30] Alan: And you felt that way because I read you you could sort of connect with the idea of being being in the minority and not being part of a sort of dominant group.

[00:03:39] Matt: Oh yeah. I mean there’s a common thread with all these disenfranchised groups it’s being mischaracterized and being assigned an identity that you yourself did not identify with or construct. So being I’m having this set of social expectations put upon my cultural group I would say is similar you know in some sense to other disenfranchised groups. So I could totally relate on that specific level.

[00:04:13] Alan: What do you think if at all. Is there anyway to say I don’t editorialize but take responsibility or what is what should Asian-Americans do to combat anti-blackness within their own communities if anything.

[00:04:30] Matt: You know it’s all it’s all about being exposed to other people right. Because if you do not meet people it’s very easy to demonize them to say oh they’re not like us they’re you know this other type. Right. But once you talk to people once you understand where they’re coming from you know their cultural background. It’s a lot easier to connect. And I would say like I have an African-American partner and you know we talk a lot about racial issues and stuff like that and it’s very educational It’s very enriching. And I think that if other groups other people were to participate in these exchanges of ideas we would see a lot less turmoil between the two groups and probably establish a common ground.

[00:05:15] Alan: You mention that your partner is African-American. What’s one thing you’ve learned from talking to them that you had didn’t know before when you talk. You mentioned you talked a lot about racial issues. Is there anything in particular that stands out to you.

[00:05:26] Matt: Well you know I mean one particular thing that really stuck out to me is terminology right. So I would always refer to the African community as black because you know there are you know people who are not from Africa. There are people from the Caribbean you know Morocco you name it you know they’re all over the place so I would always use that terminology of black folk to try and be more precise with my language. But you know speaking with my partner she said she did not like having an identity being linked to a color. And so that kind of changed my mind and how I used my language.

[00:06:05] Alan: So thank you so much for doing this. Appreciate it. Was there anything we didn’t get to that you wanted to mention.

[00:06:12] Matt: Not really. Yeah. Yeah yeah I think you know two other ways I think that I think is awesome.

[00:06:19] Alan: Thank you so much. Thank you for having me. And good luck with the rest of your interview. Thanks